How to market other practice areas within your firm

friday, 13 march of 2009

How to market other practice areas within your firm

by Trey Ryder

"Cross-selling" is the selling-based marketing term for your efforts to persuade clients to buy added services from different practices areas within your firm.

But the problem is, most lawyers don't like to sell -- and most clients don't like to be the target of a sales pitch.  Think back to the last time you tried to talk with a client about another practice area.  Your client immediately thinks, "Here comes the sales pitch," and looks for a way to avoid the discussion.  You think, "I don't want to turn off the client, but I'm getting pressure to increase the services he buys from our firm."

I suggest you use the term "cross-marketing."  This takes the element of sales out of the process, leaving you with the opportunity to market with dignity.  

If you're like most lawyers, your clients have occasionally told you that they hired a lawyer at another firm because they did not realize you could provide the same service.  Here's how to make sure clients, prospects and referral sources know the range of services you offer:

Step #1:  Create a marketing message for each practice area you want to promote.  Write titles for your educational documents that will attract the specific types of clients you want.  Appeal to both your clients' fear of loss and desire for gain.  Make sure your marketing materials convey to prospects and clients that you can solve their problems.  (If your prospects and clients are not aware that they have problems, then you first need to educate them about the problem so you can offer a solution.)

Your marketing message should consist of the following:

-- Educational materials that explain your prospect's problem and the solutions you can provide;

-- Biographical material that outlines your education, background and experience, along with your photo;

-- Articles you've written or in which you've been quoted, reinforcing the fact that you are an authority in your field;

-- Articles that support the depth of your prospect's problem, proof that your recommended solution works, or both, even if you have no connection to the articles;

-- Letters of recommendation from clients and colleagues attesting to your knowledge, skill, judgment and experience.  (Testimonials are not allowed in some jurisdictions, so be sure to check your rules of professional conduct.);

-- A detailed letter that explains the services you offer, answers frequently asked questions, and provides information about fees;

-- A one-page handout that explains the many benefits clients receive from hiring you;

-- A one-page handout that explains how you differ from other lawyers (your competitive advantages), listing reasons prospects hire you;

-- A one-page handout that lists objectives prospects want to achieve.  Involve your prospect by asking him to fill out the form, check the objectives that are important to him, and then fax the form to you or bring it to your initial meeting; and

-- Information and advice about how to hire a lawyer in your field of law.

Step #2: Offer this new packet of material to clients, prospects and referral sources through your

-- Newsletters.  Offer educational materials from all practice areas in all of your newsletters.  This gives readers the opportunity to request information in any areas where they have interests (interests you may not know they have).  Don't limit your newsletter's offerings only to information about one practice area.

-- Web site.  Offer educational materials from all practice areas on your web site.  Include submit forms so prospects and clients can request more materials through your web site.

-- News releases.  Send news releases to editors at the publications your prospects read.  In those news releases, in addition to your news content, offer to mail your educational materials to anyone on request.

-- Advertising.  Offer your educational marketing materials in print advertising and broadcast commercials.

-- Seminars.  Offer forms at your seminars so attendees can request your educational materials from any or all of your practice groups.  If you offer the materials themselves, your prospects and clients could pick up your materials and you might not know who took what.  But when you offer a one-page form on which attendees can request materials, you can take those back to the office and fill their requests by mail or e-mail.  Then you know exactly who is interested in which subjects.

-- Direct mail.  Send a letter to your clients and prospects offering materials from all practice groups to everyone on your mailing list.  You might enclose the fill-in-the-blank form that you use at seminars, on which prospects and clients can request your materials.

-- E-mail.  Send an e-mail to all of your clients and prospects offering materials from all practice areas.

Step #3:  Invite clients to call you anytime they have a legal question or problem, even if the subject is not in your primary practice area.  When you become your clients' first point of contact for all legal questions, you have the opportunity to direct the outcome of their calls.  (In essence, you have the right of first refusal over all their legal matters.)  You can handle the matter yourself, refer it to another lawyer within your firm, or refer it to an outside lawyer if your firm prefers not to handle it.

Successful cross-marketing hinges on three things:

#1.  Who gets the call first.  When you make it clear to clients and prospects that you are happy to serve as their primary contact for all legal questions, you increase your value and you have the opportunity to direct inquiries to other practice areas within your firm.

#2.  The degree to which your clients know the services your firm offers.  By creating educational materials for each practice group -- and by offering those materials to your entire client list -- you can track who has an interest in which subjects by watching which materials they request.  

#3.  Early and ongoing education and interaction with existing clients.  The sooner you generate an inquiry from one of your firm's clients, the sooner you (1) learn of your client's interest in this new practice area, (2) provide educational material on the subject, and (3) start identifying your client's problem and the solutions you can provide  

When you market with education, you can attract your client's inquiry early in the process, long before your client approaches another lawyer -- and long before your client's need becomes known to another law firm.

This is how to effectively cross market services with dignity -- without selling.


© Trey Ryder

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